Advance-fee fraud is one of the oldest successful scams the world has witnessed. As old as it is, it is still very much alive and will still continue to flourish as long as the system permits.
Advance fee fraud is a type of fraud whereby the victim is made to pay certain fees in order to redeem a prize or a much higher amount of money or other valuables or even a favour. This is perhaps the only type of fraud that is expressly fueled by greed.
History of Advance-fee Fraud.
Advance fee fraud and it’s variations has been around for over a century. In the beginning, it was a “Spanish prisoner letter” scam. Spanish prisoner letter was a scam whereby scammers contacted businessmen through letter alleging that someone connected to a wealthy family in Spain was in prison, and in exchange for a small fee to help smuggle them out, the wealth would be shared. When the fee is paid, the victim realizes that there was neither a prisoner no any wealth to be shared.
During the 1980’s, variations of these letters started coming from Nigeria. They began as letters mailed to potential victims and evolved into e-mail scams, as it drastically cut the cost of sending. It became popular as 419 (419 is Click here
Over the years, it has evolved into different formats and variations. With the introduction of internet, there are now many ways of reaching prospective victims.
For Advance-fee fraud to succeed, the following actions and considerations must be present:
- Contacting the victim. This is done through emails, SMS, Phone call, social media among others.
- Bait. The bait could be in the form of promise of a very good deal whereby you’re just required to make little upfront payment and you redeem a huge reward.
- Anonymous. Anonymous here means that the scammer must be untraceable. He covers his track so well that it is difficult to trace or track him. That is why they don’t use bank transfer, instead they use wire transfer such as Western Union or money gram and more recently, bitcoin.
Variations of Advance-fee Fraud
Advance-fee fraud could be categorized according to their pattern of operation. Their list cannot be exhausted because Scammers get creative and innovative . The only objective is to make victims to pay money.
This is one of the most common advance-fee frauds. Scammers create fake job openings or promise job applicants of non existing jobs if only they make payment of certain amount of money. This scam comes in different scales and forms. Few months a go, a newly elected government in Nigeria advertised a non existent job and applicants were asked to pay one thousand Nigerian Naira each. This type of scam has happened severally in the past.
Individuals also claim that they have connections with certain employers, especially in government agencies. They collect money from desperate job seekers with the promise of giving them jobs. After the payment, stories upon stories…
Some scammers specialise in collecting registration fee and other fees like training fees among others.
A scammer contacts you and tells you that you’ve won a lottery or grant from an international organization or government agency. To redeem the prize, you will have to pay small fees for clearance or insurance or logistics or anything they can come up with.
3. Beneficiary fund scam
The story is usually of a person needing help to pull out money from another country; if not done fast, the money will be forfeited to government.
4. Romance scam.
Usually an American soldier on a peace keeping mission in middle east. He opens a joint account where he pays huge money through account flashing (account flashing), but needs small money to sort out urgent need.
People hardly help strangers. Any offer that is too good to be true is most definitely a scam. Do not easily trust strangers; never pay money to get money unless for a scheme you’re very sure of. Due diligence is key.